Would my boyfriend be able to tell if I had an abortion?

Originally Published: May 10, 1996 - Last Updated / Reviewed On: December 15, 2014
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Dear Alice,

Do you think it is possible to have an abortion without my boyfriend knowing? I think I might be pregnant and I do not want to have the baby. If I tell my boyfriend, he will not approve. Is it possible for me to have one and not tell him about it? Do you think that when we do resume sex, he will notice?

— I really need to KNOW!!

Dear I really need to KNOW!!,

Yes, it is possible to have an abortion without your boyfriend knowing. You will be instructed by your medical provider not to have penetration, vaginal sex, and receptive anal or oral sex for 2 to 3 weeks after the procedure. This is critical, since you may be bleeding during this time, and microorganisms can get more easily into the reproductive tract under these circumstances, creating risk for infection.

Your challenge will be to figure out how to explain avoiding sex with your boyfriend during this time. Of course, this may not be a problem, depending upon how often you spend time together, how close you live to each other, and how frequently you have sex. Perhaps you could arrange the procedure, if you need it, to coincide with a vacation or trip you would take on your own.

Right now, however, you are not sure that you are pregnant, so you need to establish that first. Columbia students can make an appointment for a pregnancy test by contacting Medical Services (Morningside) or the Student Health Service (CUMC). You also can use an over-the-counter pregnancy test, go to a clinic such as Planned Parenthood, or see your own women's health care provider.

As for your question concerning whether it is possible for you to have an abortion and not tell your boyfriend about it, it seems that only you can answer that question. Physically, there would be no way for your boyfriend to know. But only you know whether or not it is possible for you not to tell him. If you are thinking of your boyfriend as a long-term partner or possible husband, you can consider this: trust is basic to this kind of relationship. In that case, what would it be like for you to keep this information from him? What if he finds out later? What if there were complications? At what point might you tell him, if at all?

If you would like to explore some of your feelings about this, or if this situation is more complicated than your question suggests, then it may make sense to talk with a counselor or someone you trust. Talking with someone may help you clarify your motivations, voice your fears, and facilitate potential communication with your boyfriend; however, it is your body and your decision to make.

Alice